For the majority of my life, the only meatballs that ever graced a plate in front of me probably came out of a canâ¦or maybe were frozen and thrown into some sauce before serving. And that was OK; I wasnât the one in charge and I didnât know any different and somehow I survived. Until I had one; you know, a REAL meatball. Still, over the years Iâm had better success at restaurants than at home and Iâve tried, I really have. But apparently not hard enough. Iâve seen people espouse the use of multiple types of meat and often those mixes included veal and I just couldnât so I ignored them. So what changed; how did I end up with what Iâm callingÂ âPerfect Meatballs?â
It quite simply started when I was putting some things away in the freezer and spotted two packages sitting next to each other. One was hamburger and one was ground pork Italian sausage. Knowing I already had some homemade spaghetti sauce in the fridge, my brain did a quick computation and I was inspired to use those ingredients to make some meatballs to pair with that sauce.Â I didnât have a favorite recipe so did a quick search and the closest I came to what I wanted was a recipe by Anne Burrell. She drives me batty but Iâll give her thisâ¦first, I love her name (says Barbara Anne) and yes, these are amazingly fabulous meatballs. Anneâs recipe called for beef, pork and veal (of course) but I just opted to use half ground beef and half Italian sausage knowing the more intensely flavored sausage would be a real flavor boost to these gorgeous orbs. Not having any breadcrumbs or desiring to dry out bread and make some, I substituted panko crumbs for the breadcrumbs called for in her recipe and it was so perfect that I think THEY need to be the norm.
I mean so perfect I could have eaten them alone without spaghetti or sauce but I have to tell you that the classic Tomato, Butter and Onion sauce from the late, great Marcella Hazan that I had on hand was phenomenal with them. A simple sauce made from only those three ingredients, it was simply divine. Known and loved by many, itâs a great recipe to have on hand when you want something easy and yet so tasty. With these meatballs. Heaven on a plate I tell ya!
I make the meatballs a good size; I should have measured before they were devoured but Iâm guessing each one was 2-2.5â³ in diameter and my two pounds of meat made an even dozen. Speaking of that meat? Iâve mentioned them before and Iâll mention them again soon when I get 7 pounds of leaf lard for pie crusts delivered to my door but I just love the folks at 5280 Beef. (@5280Beef on Twitter). To say their product is organic is one thing but to personally know the care they put into their enterprise and their animals gives all new meaning to that word. Ty and Rachel are the best and so is their productâ¦so maybe thatâs why I ended up with THE PERFECT MEATBALL??!!
If youâve been combining ground pork with your ground beef to make meatballs; try the pork Italian sausage; I bet youâll love it as much as we did.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 12 large meatballs
Serving Size: Serve 2 meatballs per person
- 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- One pinch of crushed red pepper
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 lb pork Italian sausage
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup water
- Coat a large saute pan with olive oil, add the chopped onion and bring to a medium-high heat. Season the onion generously with salt and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes until soft and aromatic but not long enough to brown.
- Add the garlic and the crushed red pepper and saute for another 1 to 2 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to cool.
- In a large bowl use your hands to squish together the meats, eggs, Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.
- Add the cooled onion mixture, season generously with salt and mix everything up a bit more.
- Add the water and do a final squish; the mixture should be quite wet.
- If you want to test your seasoning; take a bit of the mix and cook it in a skillet with a small amount of olive oil; add more salt to your mixture if needed.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Shape the meat into desired size meatballs. I make mine approximately 1.5 - 2" diameter.
- Coat a large saute pan with olive oil and bring to medium-high heat. Brown the meatballs on all sides. Place them on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake them in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked all the way through.
- Serve over pasta and finish them with your favorite sauce. Top with Parmesan cheese and enjoy!!
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